Highlights

 
Quotable
It takes more courage to get out of a war than it does to get into one.
Mark Couturier
Original Letters Blog US Casualties Contact Donate

 
May 8, 2007

In Beirut, Resistance Being Rebuilt Too


by Dahr Jamail

BEIRUT - As reconstruction resumes in the heavily bombed southern Beirut district Dahiyeh, the signs are evident of a rebuilding of resistance against Israel and the U.S.-backed government, largely by way of increased support for Hezbollah.

Hezbollah is leading much of the reconstruction. Dahiyeh was bombed by the Israelis last year because it was seen as a Hezbollah stronghold. At least 15,000 houses were destroyed.

Many local people accuse the U.S.-backed Lebanese government of refusal to help reconstruction in pro-Hezbollah areas like Dahiyeh.

Foreign donors pledged more than $7 billion in aid and loans at a meeting in Paris in January to help rebuild this nation of 4 million. Three of the biggest contributors were the United States, France, and Saudi Arabia. All three are seen by the opposition as supporters of Prime Minister Fouad Siniora and his allies Saad Hariri and Druze leader Walid Jumblatt.

Michel Samaha, who was minister for information 1992-1995 and again 2003-2004, told IPS that Siniora, Hariri, and Jumblatt are seeking to strengthen themselves by "having on their ruling agenda the priorities of the United States in Lebanon, the priorities of the Zionists in the United States, and especially the neocons in the Middle East."

The anger against such policies is obvious in Shia areas.

"We've applied for help through the government," 45-year-old Dahiyeh resident Mahmoud al-Khateib told IPS at his electronics repair shop, which was damaged by an Israeli bomb. "They came and inspected the damage and said they would let us know. We're still waiting."

Many people say money meant for reconstruction is going elsewhere. "All the government cares about is putting money in their own pockets," 18-year-old student Ali Mohammed told IPS. "They don't care about us, just look around you at this destruction, they are doing nothing for us."

Blocks and blocks of what were 10-story apartment buildings were leveled by Israeli bombing. Empty craters is sometimes all that remains.

Hezbollah, led by Sayed Hassan Nasrallah, has spearheaded postwar reconstruction in the suburb through its NGO, Jihad al-Binaa. The organization is well resourced, and has a force of 1,500 engineers.

Hezbollah founded Jihad al-Binaa in 1988 during Lebanon's 1975-1990 civil war. The NGO took the role of a kind of local municipality for the Shia community in the absence of an effective government. It continues to do so.

Jihad al-Binaa is one of a number of foundations run by Hezbollah. Others also deliver services normally provided by governments, such as health-care and education. Hezbollah says the group is funded through religious charitable donations such as zakat and the Shia Muslim system of khums, through which Shias donate a percentage of their incomes.

Hezbollah acted quickly after the bombings ended in August last year, offering $12,000 to each family who had lost their house. It undertook reconstruction work directly for those most in need.

Officials loyal to Prime Minister Siniora accused Hezbollah of acting as a "state within a state." In its response delivered on al-Manar TV, which it owns, Hezbollah officials lashed out at "the absent state."

Within two weeks of the ceasefire last year, Hezbollah said the government planners "still have no contingency plans for reconstruction in the south or in Dahiyeh." That has remained largely the picture since then.

Residents agree, and their sentiment has translated into increasing respect and support for Hezbollah. Israeli officials had hoped the attacks would destroy support for the group.

"Eight months after the war nobody in the government has yet come even to inspect the damage to my home," Jihad Brahim, a 40-year-old member of the Lebanese army, told IPS as he stood near a pile of rubble under a half-destroyed building. "Look at this rubble: it would take a bulldozer 15 minutes to clear this, but it's still here."

Brahim added, "Everyone in my building has a year's worth of support from Hezbollah, and they are also carrying out reconstruction. Hezbollah is much stronger now, and all of us respect them so much more. I pray that Nasrallah lives a long life."

"The government is giving us nothing, while Hezbollah is doing a great job for us," 22-year-old electrician Hussein Shara'a told IPS. "Even with all this work still to be done, we can live with any difficulty, because the important thing is that we won the war."

The suburb is dotted with countless green and yellow banners of Jihad al-Binaa. They say, "Carrying On. Together We Resist. Together We Rebuild."

Mahmoud Rahman has been driving a taxi for 30 years. He bought an apartment with his savings, but his house was almost destroyed by an Israeli bomb.

"I never had a problem with America before, but because of their backing of Israel my life is destroyed," he told IPS. "All my kids hate America. Is this their democracy? If it is, we're better off without it."

Al-Fadl Shalaq, former head of the Development and Reconstruction Council, a body formed by former prime minister Rafik Hariri, who was assassinated in February 2005, says the damage suffered by Lebanon during the Israeli onslaught exceeded that during the 1975-1990 civil war between extremist Muslim and Christian groups.

(Inter Press Service)


comments on this article?
 
 
Archives

  • Finally, Iraqis Get Health Care on the Market
    3/8/2009

  • Iraqi Doctors in Hiding Treat as They Can
    2/22/2009

  • Still Homeless in Baghdad
    2/20/2009

  • The Tigris Too Tells the Story
    2/13/2009

  • No Unemployment Among Iraq's Gravediggers
    2/6/2009

  • Iraqis Look for Hope in Election Results
    2/2/2009

  • Threat of Violence Looms Again Over Fallujah
    1/31/2009

  • Tentative Hope Rises Ahead of Iraq Elections
    1/29/2009

  • Winter Soldiers: 'We Have to Share This Pain'
    10/21/2008

  • In Baghdad, Even the Hospitals Are Sick
    9/26/2008

  • Iraq War Vets Transforming Trauma
    9/20/2008

  • New Book Lets Winter Soldiers Be Heard
    9/17/2008

  • Journalist Charges Censorship by US Military in Fallujah
    7/4/2008

  • Winter Soldiers Hit the Streets
    6/4/2008

  • Iraq Vets: 'Enough Is Enough. It's Time to Get Out'
    6/3/2008

  • Five Years, No End in Sight
    3/19/2008

  • Iraq Vet: Rules of Engagement 'Thrown Out the Window'
    3/17/2008

  • Iraqi Women More Oppressed Than Ever
    3/7/2008

  • New Year Begins Unhappily In Iraq
    1/3/2008

  • 2007 Worst Year Yet in Iraq
    12/30/2007

  • Ill-Equipped Soldiers Opt for 'Search and Avoid'
    10/25/2007

  • The Royal Treatment: Saudi Involvement in Iraq Overlooked
    9/20/2007

  • In Beirut, Resistance Being Rebuilt Too
    5/8/2007

  • Lebanon's Palestinian Refugees Learn to Substitute Government
    5/3/2007

  • In Southern Lebanon, One Unexploded Bomb Per Person
    4/28/2007

  • Tensions Run High After Sunni Killings in Beirut
    4/28/2007

  • In Lebanon, Political Loyalties Being Rebuilt
    4/27/2007

  • This Protest Won't Go Away
    4/26/2007

  • In Lebanon, Tempers Rise Over Reconstruction
    4/24/2007

  • In Damascus, a Lot of Uninvited Guests
    4/19/2007

  • Iraqi Refugees Complicate Syria's Position
    4/18/2007

  • Small Iraqi Province in
    Big Trouble
    4/17/2007

  • Refugees Speak of Escape from Hell
    4/12/2007

  • Iraqi Refugees Languish in Neighboring Countries
    4/10/2007

  • Security Meeting Ends; Insecurity Does Not
    3/13/2007

  • Iraq Rape Cases Emerge From the Shadows
    3/2/2007

  • Lack of Food Security Threatening Iraq
    2/20/2007

  • Surge in Violence Accompanies Proposed Surge in Troops
    2/14/2007

  • Official Lies Over Najaf Battle Exposed
    2/1/2007

  • Southern Iraqi Tribes Joining Armed Resistance
    1/20/2007

  • The War Becomes More Unholy
    1/18/2007

  • Furor Over Saddam's Execution Continues Unabated
    1/16/2007

  • Iraqi Media Under Growing Siege
    1/12/2007

  • Terrified Soldiers Terrifying People
    1/9/2007

  • Managing Escalation: Negroponte and Bush's New Iraq Team
    1/9/2007

  • Execution Memories Refuse To Go Away
    1/6/2007

  • More Troops but Less Control in Iraq
    12/29/2006

  • When Iraqis Gave Up on Government
    12/28/2006

  • A Grim Christmas for Iraqi Children
    12/26/2006

  • Iraqi Hopes Dim Through Worst Year of Occupation
    12/23/2006

  • US Troops Raid Fallujah Hospital Again
    12/15/2006

  • Cornered US Military Takes to Desperate Tactics in Iraq
    12/10/2006

  • In Iraq, It's Hard
    Being a Woman
    12/6/2006

  • Iraq's Medical System Becomes Sickening
    11/24/2006

  • Support Builds for
    Sunni Leader
    11/21/2006

  • Iraqi Education Under Siege
    11/19/2006

  • Locals Accuse US of Massacre in Ramadi
    11/18/2006

  • Bechtel Departure Shatters More Iraqi Illusions
    11/10/2006

  • Iraqi Militias Take Refuge in Facilities Protection Service
    11/8/2006

  • Saddam Verdict Could
    Deepen Divisions
    11/7/2006

  • US Military Adopts Desperate Tactics in al-Anbar
    11/1/2006

  • Govt Death Squads
    Ravaging Baghdad
    10/20/2006

  • Excess Death in Iraq
    10/14/2006

  • Iraq: Resistance to Occupation Not Just for Fighters
    10/13/2006

  • Baquba Erupts
    10/10/2006
  • Dahr Jamail is the Baghdad correspondent for The NewStandard. Originally from Anchorage, Alaska, Dahr writes about the effects of the US occupation on the people of Iraq, since the mainstream media in the US has in large part, he believes, failed to do so.

    To find out more about Dahr's coverage of Iraq, visit Dahr's support pages.

    To read Dahr's weblog, click here.

    Reproduction of material from any original Antiwar.com pages
    without written permission is strictly prohibited.
    Copyright 2003 Antiwar.com